East Renfrewshire MP Paul Masterton slammed bank bosses over their reliance on the Post Office as justification for branch closures during a recent session of the Scottish Affairs Select Committee in Westminster.
As part of an ongoing inquiry into access for cash, Masterton and other members of the Committee questioned executives from Bank of Scotland, RBS, TSB and Clydesdale Bank.
With banks citing the availability of Post Office to customers following branch closures, Mr Masterton questioned what steps Banks were taking to ensure those Post Offices remain open. Mr Masterton hit out at the banks for failing to support the Post Office network, which provides basic banking services at a loss, pointing to the large number of local branch closures, which have left constituents without close access to a bank or a Post Office.
Mr Masterton’s questioning was initially met with silence from the Banks, who struggled to provide any answers.
Mr Masterton has proposed the introduction of ‘banking hubs’, where banks would share space to ensure continued presence in a community at lower cost. Where such hubs are provided via the Post Office, banks would need to provide adequate funding for the services being carried out on their behalf.
Paul Masterton, MP for East Renfrewshire commented:
“East Renfrewshire has been hit hard by Post Office closures, with many postmasters retiring or struggling to maintain their business. Banks seems to want the Post Office to do their jobs for them, but that has to be matched by a requirement to provide the funding for the services being provided on their behalf.
The Government owns the Post Office and needs to get tougher on banks now. The Post Office provides basic banking services at a loss, and it is not right that taxpayers are effectively subsiding the bank’s lack of branches.
Banks need to seriously look at co-sharing space to keep a local presence, or if they still want to pass the buck to the Post Office, the Government should make them responsible for setting up and funding ‘banking hubs’.
It is completely unacceptable for high street banks to rely on the Post Office network as justification for abandoning local communities, whilst doing nothing meaningful to ensure the continued survival of that network.
The embarrassed silence in response to my questioning said it all.”